Study in Progress

Value and Sustainability of Biological Field Stations, Marine Laboratories, and Natural Reserves in 21st Century Science, Education, and Public Outreach


Public Briefing, Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations and Marine Laboratories in the 21st Century - 07/23/14

Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report that will review and assess the role of field stations, marine laboratories, and natural reserves (FSMLNRs) in science and engineering research, innovation, education, training, and public outreach and engagement. The committee will evaluate FSMLNR effectiveness as individual entities and as collaborative networks to address local, national, or global challenges; their value as resources for environmental research; and provide suggestions for financially feasible approaches for the sustained operation and management in support of their often multifaceted roles. In particular the committee will:

1. Assess the past and present contributions of FSMLNRs to

a. Research and innovation to address pressing environmental and societal challenges.

b. Education and training of the next generation of leaders in science and other disciplines.

c. Public outreach mechanisms that enable individuals and communities to access, interpret, and use, or contribute to environmental science and engineering research.

2. Outline strategies for FSMLNRs to fill gaps in knowledge, open new avenues of inquiry (e.g. collaborations with industry), and forge a new convergence of science and engineering to advance research and innovation, education and training, and public outreach and engagement programs to form a new environmental infrastructure that can serve society at all levels.

3. Outline the infrastructure and logistical needs for FSMLNRs to fulfill their roles. Include perspective on physical (laboratories, research vessels, housing, transportation, canopy towers, class rooms etc.), technical (i.e. lab equipment, sensor arrays, etc.) and cyber infrastructure needs to support or enhance their ability to benefit science and society. How can FSMLNRs be equipped to address and adapt to rapidly changing needs or capabilities in science and engineering, education, and public outreach and engagement?

4. Explore the potential for broader networking of FSMLNRs with other field facilities such as state and national parks and wildlife refuges among others.

5. Describe best practices and metrics that will enable FSMLNRs to monitor, assess, and modify their strategies to meet research and innovation, education and training, and outreach and engagement goals.

6. Suggest a range of long-term financial strategies that could be used for sustained support of FSMLNR individual and collective roles in research and innovation, education and training, and public outreach and engagement, including potential partnerships with industry to develop green technologies.